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The War on Talent

Last week we posted 3 takeaways, having sat down with several key spokespeople during the MKdigitalsummit who shared their thoughts on this topic. One of the most interesting views was from Professor David Denyer from the Cranfield Management School who said that learning & development is seen as a given by Gen Z employees.

This is a key lever to retaining and attracting talent, yet David shared that 50% of Cranfield business Leaders will be cutting costs on L&D in the next 12 months.

Yesterday an interview posted on Harvard Business Review which we shared, highlighted this topic by speaking to Accenture CEO Julie Sweet emphasising the importance of pivoting L&D and how it can be delivered successfully by businesses. Link is here -

These are the 4 key highlights to retaining top talent for businesses in the commercial markets as measured by Cranfield;

Levers to retain talent;

• Brand strength & proposition

• Wages & Salary

• Promotion Opportunities

• Development of employees in role & organisation

L&D levels in business have not returned to pre-recession 2012 investment levels. While good in some corporations, training is not adequate in many large & medium sized businesses for the modern world.

Leaders are aware of the war on talent yet in a survey done by Cranfield with leaders, 50% are looking at cutting cost on training face to face over the coming months & years, hereby reducing quality and removing two of the 4 key levers for retention.

The world as we know, changed overnight with the pandemic & saw a significant increase in the requirement for basic technology & connectivity skills as well as a deepened emotional intelligence requirement, highlighting the importance of soft skills.

An awareness of the world and people around you has meant leadership had to flex its style to a more modern hybrid and technology engaged and long-distance relationship style workforce.


The war for talent need not cost more money for salaries or be won on flexibility alone. You will be surprised to hear that a great deal of candidates want exposure to offices 2-3 days a week, to learn by osmosis from peers and management.

Can CEOs and the SLT be clearer on structure and development paths to future progression and do a better job of presenting live business examples of this?

Can we also create a L&D model that is more factual and apparent which can be shared like in the case of Accenture - showcasing the amount of ‘not on job’ learning days in a typical year’s employment and the investment put into a single employee over a 12-24 month period?

As a Talent Partner working across two mature sectors in FMCG & Automotive, we have always believed soft skills are the most important factor. As a business you can coach many technical aspects. It is great to see Accenture focusing on the softer skillsets and highlighting the L&D roadmaps for future talent.

We believe many of our customers can take inspiration from this and win the war for talent by casting a wider net to diversify talent pools.

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